The Man in the White Truck

17 Nov
We welcome back, Dr. Keith Kanner, as today’s guest blogger. Today is Child Protection Day and being aware of your surroundings is one way to keep your kids safe. We do not recommend approaching potentially dangerous people. Always contact the police. 
Also, below Dr. Kanner’s post, we have links that will help you teach your child about personal safety.
Many of us have witnessed this before…a lone man parked in a truck looking at a crowd of people and we ask why? This becomes an even more significant question and concern if the crowd they appear to be looking at are children. With the John Gardeners of the world who stalk, rape, and murder innocent children combined with the greater awareness of registered child molesters, “normal” parents are more aware these days, as they should be.
Two weeks ago I had a first-hand encounter with a man in a truck parked in front of my children’s school 30 minutes prior to the bell ringing. It was a strange experience. I was dropping off my 12-year-old daughter and noticed a man in a white truck eyeing children as they entered campus from the privacy of his front cab. He seemed very interested in something but I couldn’t determine what. I also noticed that his truck was very unusual.  It had no windows on the side or rear of the cab. It reminded me of the elevator in the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland. No windows and no doors.
Although creepy, I’m thinking maybe he was a parent, a school worker, or had some legitimate reason for being parked in front of the school. But why was he watching patrons coming into the school?  It was also September 12th, the day after our nation’s worst disaster in this century, so that was knocking at my brain as well. I thought about calling 911, but if I was wrong, it could greatly embarrass my kids. I could hear it now…. “My dad called 911 and caused a lock down”.  That’s a lot of points that I could risk losing as a parent. Instead, I decided to exit the parking lot and pull up behind him and watch for a while. It was now 15 minutes before the start of school and he was still gazing. I became a little nervous so I decided to pull my SUV up in front of his truck and introduce myself to get a better read on this man.  This is when things got interesting.
“Hi, how’s it going? I’m Dr. Kanner from Fox News and Ws Radio.”  He was uncomfortable but responded, “Hi”.  His face began to turn inward. “Are you a parent here at this school?” I asked. He replied, “No.” I then asked, “I have three children who attend school here. Are you a teacher or work at the school?” He hesitated and replied, “No”.  I added, “Well then, you must be employed somewhere in our little town here?” “Well, uh…no.” He stammered. I then asked, “SO WHY ARE YOU PARKED 5 FEET FROM A SCHOOL IN A WHITE TRUCK WITHOUT ANY WINDOWS OR DECALS ON YOUR VEHICLE?”  He nervously stated, “I was texting.”  Now I knew he was lying because I saw him watching kids and adults walking onto campus. For safety reasons, and a fear of possibly getting hurt, I decided not to confront him on his lie. The police can do that. So I changed course in my questions and calmed the situation down. “Okay.” I said. “I was worried as I’m writing a news story on child stalkers and you scared me.”  He responded with relief, “Well, that’s a great story!” I knew at this point that I could freely look into the back of his truck and there I saw some sort of strange cage or machine. I was thinking, what the heck is that?  Is that some sort of bomb or something? So now I am a bit fearful and inquired, “Well, after all, you have heard of John Gardener, haven’t you?  “Oh, yeah. That guy.” He replied, “Yes, that guy.” I responded “Who less than 5 miles from here stalked and raped and killed two teenage girls. Does the name Chelsea King ring a bell?” Now he looked puzzled. My goal here was to obtain as much information as I could about this guy and pass it along to the police so they could talk to him. He was clearly uncomfortable. I then felt the need to both try and get this guy out of here before school began to protect the kids, and also contact law enforcement, so I said, “Dude, if I were you, I’d never come back to this town again. I am planning on doing a feature story called “The man in the white truck who parks in front of schools choosing this particular place to text message.” “Don’t you think that’s a bit strange after our conversation here?” “Yes, I suppose so.” He responded.  I ended the conversation with “Seriously, by next week this place will be crawling with cops and I will be looking for guys in trucks like yours to interview for my story.  I’m sure the cops will want to interview you as well.”  “THANKS, MAN, FOR THE TIP.” He sighed. I ended with, “Sure thing.”  I then got into my car, took another snapshot of him, and waited for him to leave. He waited a minute and then started up his truck. I waited. I didn’t want to spook him, so I didn’t call 911.  Instead, I followed him out of our little town tailgating close behind him. I kept looking for a cop, but no luck. Once I got him out of the area while he watched me watch him, I returned to town and contacted the authorities.
After contacting law enforcement, I felt much better.  I supplied them with both a description of the man, photos of his truck, license plate number, and profile. The police and other agencies are checking him out as you read this, and I am looking forward to hearing what information they find on this particular man.
Although I felt courageous, the officers that I spoke with told me that in the future, it’s best to contact 911 even if one just has a hunch. They explained that the 911 operators will ask certain questions to determine if a police unit should be dispatched based on such information. I agreed but told them that my “dad instincts” couldn’t wait for an operator to make the call regarding the safety of my children, especially on the heels of the 9/11 anniversary.
The moral of this story is simple. It takes a village to keep our kids safe.  Be aware and make the effort to make it clear that as parents, we protect our children.
Dr. Keith Kanner
Anchor/Host Your Family Matters
Host:  Ask The Doctors: Relationship Edition
Fox 5 News – San Diego
Lifechanger-EXTRA TV
Personal Safety for Children: A Guide for Parents Download this free booklet developed by the Departments of Education, Justice and Health and Human Services and the Center for Missing and Exploited Children
Adult Personal Safety Tips Presented on Good Morning America
Child ID Kits CVS offers free Child ID Kits at the check out counters. Although this article mentions an expiration date, they are still available in stores. You can also contact your local police department to ask if they have child ID kits.
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